Microsoft bug-checking tools promise fewer crashes

by admin May 27, 2006 at 11:44 am

SEATTLE–Microsoft is readying two tools to help hardware makers create more stable and secure Windows drivers, which should help reduce the number of crashes.

The tools, PreFast for Drivers and Static Driver Verifier, are source code analysis tools that find common flaws in driver source code, so they can be fixed. Second beta versions were released at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here this week, alongside new trials of Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn.”

“We’re hoping that reliability and robustness for drivers will improve,” Jon Hagen, a Microsoft developer who works on the Static Driver Verifier, said in an interview at WinHEC. “There is a need because of the complexity of writing kernel drivers…We’re doing this to avoid blue screens.”

Windows requires driver software to run hardware that is built-in or connected to a PC. A buggy driver can cause a lot of trouble. In particular, errors in the kernel mode drivers, which run hardware such as network interface cards and hard disk drives, can cause fatal crashes that result in the famous “blue screen of death.”

Kernel mode drivers operate at a low level in Windows. There are also user-mode drivers, which run printers, graphics, USB devices and other hardware. Crashes in those drivers can typically be overcome without rebooting, according to Microsoft. Drivers are developed by Microsoft as well as by hardware makers, which make up the WinHEC audience.

Full article: CNET